After I attended yet another funeral, I realized the power of our shared experiences as human beings. At a time when our country feels so polarized, I am reminded that we are all born, live, and die in very similar ways.
After walking through the receiving line at the small funeral pallor, I was funneled into the area that held the various collages of family photos. This part of a viewing is one of the most difficult for me. Spread before the viewer is the unfolding of a well lived life. There’s the photo of the deceased leaning on the side of the parked car. He smiles from the top of the lifeguard stand on the beach long after the beach has cleared. He stands behind his family with his arms draped on the shoulders of his two stepchildren, looking proud and happy. I think back to my grandmother’s funeral, my best friends younger sister’s funeral, the funeral for my twenty-four year old cousin who died of Cystic Fibrosis and I remember the photos of their faces, lit from ear to ear with joy and life. Pictures from proms and birthdays and weddings. Pictures from Christmases, Easters, and Halloweens all gone by and these moments stand in littered array at the end of their lines. People pause and point at their favorites or they find the pictures that show occasions they also attended and they wipe the tears from their cheeks or they grin slightly at the memory.
We are all ushered into this world the same way. A woman has carried us with her for many months and when the time was right for our entrance, we entered. We live through holidays and celebrated experiences that were created by our society to remind us of our family or our unwavering traditions. We live through ordinary days that are created by our jobs or our education. Finally, we will meet our ends in whatever way has been determined and our visage will be only seen through the technology of the time that has preserved it. How can we not see these major commonalities as a force that can unite us as opposed to divide? Why can’t the knowledge of these things bring us together for the good of all and the view that all humanity matters? Perhaps then people can stop being seen as illegals, or refugees, or welfare recipients or racists or pro-lifers. We will never end bias by being biased. It will only end when the things that make us similar outweigh the things that make us different. It will end when we all support the other for the good of our world, not just our family, our community, our society, our country.
John Lennon sang it in 1971:
“You may say I’m a dreamer but I am not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.”